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partners, in every sense of the word

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Rivington was on the verge of mauling him, Robert thought, as Rivington basically devoured his neck with bites and kisses, in a fit of passion that Robert had never witnessed before from any other lover. Robert bit back a moan, because he knew someone would hear them otherwise. Someone would. Someone would have to at some point.

Rivington was not being nearly as quiet, grunting as he bit, and as he thrust himself into Robert’s still clothed thigh. Robert could feel Rivington’s hardened member, which surprised him. He had assumed with Rivington’s age…but then again, he reminded himself, never assume. Rivington went for Robert’s highest button on his shirt and threatened to pop it off with his bumbling force.

“Let me,” Robert found himself saying, and undid the button, fingers shaking. Rivington went right back to what he had been doing with Robert’s neck, now on Robert’s collarbone. Robert suddenly had the realization he would be stuck in a scarf for days after this encounter.

The encounter had started when Robert entered the printing room with coffee for what would be an all-night printing spree. Rivington was scowling over an ink stain on his ruffled shirt’s cuff. Robert came over and inspected it. “It’s not so bad. It’ll come out with water and vinegar. Stop fussing.”

“If only you could spit the vinegar you serve, Robbie!” Rivington was cross and Robert knew it. But that didn’t stop him from pushing the man.

“At least ink stain removal doesn’t require a modicum of sense.” Robert was still holding the larger man’s cuff and by extension his hand. Rivington gave a huff-laugh and squeezed Robert’s hand tight.

“You do know how to entice me, you little devil.”

Robert remembers looking up at Rivington to find a scowl-smirk that matched the huff-laugh from earlier. Rivington loomed over Robert, as he always did, always does. Always will. And Robert remembers returning the look.

He then remembers Rivington crying aloud in frustration before grabbing Robert like he’s been told men grab women and consuming him with a kiss. Robert remembers letting Rivington kiss him, explore him, and start to trail downwards from Robert’s mouth.

Robert let this happen, he’ll realize later.

Rivington takes one of his sillily gargantuan hands and gropes at Robert’s own member, which brings him right out of his memorializing of how in the devil they got there. Robert finally lets out a loud moan, and Rivington’s other hand immediately reaches up to silence him. There are footsteps above them in the coffee house above, creaking on the wooden floors.

They both hear the knock on the door leading down to the print room at the same time. “Fuck,” Rivington whispers. Robert doesn’t say anything, because he’s terrified.

“You okay down there, Mr. Rivington?”

“I’m fine! I just banged my knee against the press again! Go to bed!” Rivington practically bellows this.

This seems to scare their would-be discoverer off. “Yessir, of course, sir, good night!”

The near reveal of their ardor seems to scare Rivington off. He backs away, looking around for his fancy robe. Robert curses quietly, too quiet for God to hear him. He is aching for more of Rivington, but he re-buttons his shirt and tucks his shirt back into his trousers. Rivington is still searching for the robe, which Robert finds easily, flung over the printing press lever.

Robert hands it to Rivington silently. Rivington slips it on, wrapping it around himself in an attempt to hide his still-there erection. Robert feels his own softening, much to his relief.

“I hope you enjoy your coffee, Mr. Rivington. Try not to stay up too late.” Robert whispers this. Rivington just nods.

And Robert leaves for bed, knowing he’ll probably just have to take care of himself tonight, just as he has done ever since he met the domineering journalist. His business partner.

His partner.

Robert is almost asleep when he hears a knock on his bedroom door. He knows immediately who it is, from the firm pounding. There’s nothing gentle about it.

He opens the door, wiping the sleep away from his eyes. Rivington is standing there, in his nightshirt, looking desperate. “Are you quite all right, James?” And Rivington just pushes Robert back into his room, closing the door not so quietly behind them. Rivington wheels Robert around, shoving him against the door, and goes back to the business they left unfinished in the basement.

But then, Robert surprises himself, because he knows he wants this. He manages to do some shoving of his own, pushing Rivington away. Rivington gives a silent cry of frustration. However, Robert still pushes forward. “This is a terrible idea.”

“I know, and I don’t care.”

“You should care.”

“And why is that?”

“You don’t know who I really am.”

Rivington sniffs. “You’re a prissy little Quaker with a grandiosity complex, who thinks he’s purer than he really is. But I heard you moan.”

Robert’s mouth goes slack. He wants to reveal what he really is, but he also doesn’t especially want to reenact Nathan Hale’s hanging. So, he says nothing. They just stand there, staring at each other, breathing heavily.

And then Robert nods and lets the larger man consume him once more. They do things Robert’s never done before, unmentionable things, and afterward, when Rivington falls asleep in Robert’s tiny bed, Robert sitting up against the headboard beside him, and Robert wonders what in the world he just did.

Rivington snores, and Robert shakes him, gently. Rivington wakes up, finally, after a few minutes. “You should go. We don’t want to be caught.”

“You would know about not wanting to be caught, eh, Robbie?” Rivington says this with a quiet, wheezy laugh, collecting himself and his nightshirt. Robert freezes. What did he mean by that? Rivington notices Robert’s paler than usual visage. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. It was just a joke.” And Rivington squeezes Robert’s hand, almost affectionately. “Or was it?”

Robert realizes, in terror, that Rivington knows about him. “How?” he whispers.

“You’re good, but not that good.” And then: “If you’re involved, I want in. You only believe in righteous causes, it would seem.”

“I made love to you, didn’t I? Not so righteous.”

Rivington snorts. “Depends on who you talk to.” Rivington leans over and kisses Robert.  

Partners, wasn’t it? In business and in bed, now? And maybe even in Robert’s deepest, darkest secret. And Robert realizes that he will need Rivington, in more way than one. And he has to trust him.

With everything.